State of Decay 2 Review
There is two things in life that are certain, and that’s death and taxes. Now thanks to State of Decay 2, only one of these is true. Civilisation as we know it has fallen and not even the military could stop the zombie hordes from taking over. So it’s now fallen on you to gather and band together with other survivors and build a community in this new post-apocalyptic world. While there not much back story to the game or even throughout, there’s not much need for it, as you set about trying to survive.
When starting State of Decay 2, you can choose where to build your base or new home for the community. There are three locations on offer and each with their own terrain and layout. So it’s down to you where you want to state your claim and make your stand. Each map is open and they are also the same size of the original map from the first game. Once you have chosen your location, it’s now down to what happens next. First thing to do is get to your safe house and from there find a watch tower so you can survey the land and make a plan. It’s here where you can manage resources and choose how you want to live in this new world. Do you choose to go all out and fight and take what’s yours or try and build relationships and form alliances with other communities?
With State of Decay 2, you have to scavenge the map for resources so your small community can survive. So where do you start? The best option would be to find a tower or look-out point and then survey the area to find what is around you and what resources are available. Once you have established what resources are around, you can start to journey out and gather what you need. Resources are food, fuel, ammo, meds and materials for building. When you are running about the map for resources, always be weary of your surroundings as while you search for those valuable resources, zeds can sneak up on you, especially at night, especially while searching, as it can take some time. You are often tempted to fast search by holding LB, but in doing so can create too much noise and alert Zeds to your location, which you then have to stop your search to eradicate them before you can safely start searching again.
When searching for all important resources you will come across these rucksacks, these are vital resources that come in large rucksacks that you need to bring back to your home and store them. Storing these rucksacks gives your community the vital resources they need to survive and it’s what you need to be searching for the most! If you plan to go out for long stints at a time, a vehicle is your best bet, since you can store multiple packs in the boot.
Once you have the necessary resources back at your community, you can now set about constructing facilities that will help the survival of your “family”. You can build all manner of facilities, like a power generator, an infirmary, a farm and much more. Each one has their own advantages and disadvantages, for instance with a power generator, you will have power and electricity, but at the cost of making more noise. This extra noise coming from your community will increase the risk of a zombie attack. So it makes you choice that more important and which facilities you want to choose first, a risk verses reward choice.
State of Decay 2 offers only a morsel of new building options in terms of basic administration and doesn’t offer much in change compared to the first title. There are no options to let other survivors do certain jobs or even send them out on scavenger hunts. However, each survivor you do meet when out and about can either be an ally or an enemy. Especially when you meet other Enclaves or communities will out there. If you can trade with them and their groups you can form friendships and alliances. These can be useful for grabbing those extra resources for your community. You can also do small missions for them and you can even include them in your group as you venture out. Some of these however may not want to share any resources and it’s up to you to either walk away from them or take it all. It’s a real sense of Walking Dead territory when it happens. If you are lucky enough as well, certain survivors you come across will have special traits or skills. These can become invaluable for you and you can even invite them to become part of your community to improve your chance of survival.
Another new innovation in State of Decay 2 is the blood disease. The blood disease is spread across certain parts of the map thanks mostly to Plague Hearts. These hearts are made up of twisted lump of gore and bone and they have a nasty surprise. As soon as you start attacking one of these hearts, all nearby zombies in the vicinity will swarm in and attack you. They can also spew out gas into the area, infecting anyone caught in it to contract the blood plague. It’s a wise choice to have plenty of firepower when confronting these hearts as with each one you destroy, they become increasingly harder. It’s as if they are connected to one another and get stronger with each one you eliminate.
Not only do we have these Plague Hearts to remove and fight off the blood plague. But we get some particularly nasty and dangerous special zombies such as the massive Juggernaut which `charge at you and can handle almost anything you throw at them, even your vehicles will have a hard time with them. You also have to deal with Bloaters, which like to explode a toxic green-yellow looking gas, that if inhaled can cause you some serious damage. Lastly, you get to meet the Ferals, these are quick and run on all fours and can pounce on you. These nasty little buggers can keep chewing on you until it chews you in half. So be quick and take them down with your car or a rifle.
When it comes to the weapons, State of Decay 2 does have quite a few on offer. From pistols, shotguns to sub-machine guns and rifles. Each weapon has their own stats and their uses and it gives you more options and choice on when and where to use them. Then you have your standard melee weapons that you can find about the map. With all weapons, they can become damaged and even broken. Unfortunately, they can’t be repaired directly in the inventory and in order to do so, you need to place them back at your base first, providing you have your workshop up and running. What you can also repair at your community home is vehicles. These can also become damaged over time from zombies attacking you or by you smashing into them and obstacles like fences etc…
In regards to the vehicles; you have to regularly refuel and repair them as they are vitally important to you when you have to travel large distances to meet up with an ally or find those important resources. With a garage in the base, you can not only repair your vehicles, but you can also provide them with upgrades. You can kit out your car with armour and more to protect you against the zombie masses. The only issue I found with the vehicles is that sometimes you can become stuck on small rocks or in ditches and it can often happen a little too frequently. Which can become a bit of a headache, especially if you have a trunk full of rucksacks, and have no means of getting them all home!
When you are travelling across State of Decay 2’s post-apocalypse world and whether you are going solo or playing with friends, it can be really be a lot of fun, but nerve wracking at the same time. This is due to each of your characters’ perma-death. Any mishap or mistake can very well be your very last one. As your survivors improve their skills over time and you can choose between two upgrades at each level up. When you have been using a survivor for quite some time and built them up in the community, it can hurt when that survivor dies. I lost one of my survivors that I’d had right from the start and to say that I was upset, was a bit of an understatement. Never did a game make me regret the mistakes that I made, when my hero died on me. Not only that, he had plenty of vital resources that would have significantly helped the community survive for days. It all adds to the atmosphere and your overall experience when playing through each character.
In State of Decay 2, you can choose to play solo or play as a team in co-op. For the first time, we get a chance to team up with friends or other gamers to explore an open world and find the resources and valuable gear that is necessary to keep your community alive. Whichever you choose, you will need to survive, protect and kill if the need arises… However, there are two major drawbacks to this; first is that you cannot venture too far away from the host player, as doing this will see you teleported back to them. Secondly, while you can collect items and influence points, the mission progress is counted only for the host and changes to their base. While it may sound good, it’s a shame that you can venture out further and have that extra risk factor of do you stay home will your friends go out to look for resources. Do you all go out and try to grab what you can, but then venturing too far may get you surrounded and helpless. While this restrictive co-op feature does become a nuisance at times, it’s worth noting that you can normally do better when working together and gather more resources quicker. To some, it may not be a factor, but to others, this could be something of a problem and become too frustrating than anything else.
Undead Labs have really made something amazing with State of Decay 2. The game really brings home a sense of fear and dread when you are out scavenging for resources. With each journey out you run the risk of death by zombie and human alike, plus having to contend with your own community not ripping each other apart! It’s a perfect blend of despair and hope and something that you need to experience to understand what was achieved. While it’s not a perfect game and does have its flaws, it’s something that must not be missed.
State of Decay 2 is a zombie survivalist dream and probably one of the best that’s available to date. There is so much to do in the game that you never feel bored or wondering what to do next. It is a shame about the co-op mode as it feels like it was thrown in at the last minute, but I’m hoping in future instalments it can be improved on. While the game won’t break any records for graphical achievement, the world that Undead Labs has created is well designed and beautiful in its own right. I can’t wait to get back in there and smash more zombie hordes with my car door.
GoG Rating: 8/10
* State of Decay 2 Review code provided free of charge by Microsoft/Xbox UK *